Mt. Vernon Register-News

January 22, 2013

Need for fair and balanced representation

Staff Report

MT. VERNON — Editor:

Rend Lake Conservancy District recently received $1.8 million grant from the state for the water line that runs under Rend Lake. That’s a really good and generous gift from the state, but where does that money come from? Tax payers. We are told that our state is on the verge of bankruptcy with billions of dollars in unfunded pensions for state workers and unpaid bills to the schools and vendors.

Our representatives from Jefferson County and Mt. Vernon reported the water line project beneath Rend Lake would have been done with or without the grant. I also understand that Franklin County members voted to increase water rates and taxes, while Jefferson County members wanted to lower water rates and taxes. Obviously, the two voting blocks do not agree. Franklin County has four voting members and Jefferson three voting members. With this unbalanced representation, people in Mt. Vernon will never have a fair voice and lowering water rates and taxes may never happen.

It has been explained to me that there are two board members appointed from each county by statute. The statute also allows one appointed from each city with a population of 5,000 or more. This gives Jefferson County one from Mt. Vernon and Franklin County gets two; one from Benton and one from West Frankfort, so it’s almost always four to three vote on issues. Mt. Vernon population probably equals combined population of Benton and West Frankfort. Jefferson County pays taxes equal or more than Franklin County plus buys more water than Benton and West Frankfort combined. Is a four to three vote fair?

With a $1.8 million gift from the tax payers, you and me, why not return some of the tax payer’s money by lowering our water rates? Maybe we should petition our state representatives so we can at least have a fair and balanced representation for the people of Mt. Vernon.

Roger Jacobs

Mt. Vernon